Augustana seeks to anticipate societal and economic trends in our planning efforts. Planning takes place in a data-rich environment attuned to external shifts. The Office of Institutional Research (OIR), established in 1978, fosters empirically based decision making. The office administers and analyzes a large number of national and in-house surveys. Instruments change with the college's needs. Internal data are linked with comparative data from peers and aspirant (stretch) institutions. Every major administrative unit engages in additional forms of environmental surveillance. The college regularly engages external consultants to review our internal assessments.
A significant challenge for Augustana is demographic change. Non-traditional populations represent an increasing proportion of the total college-aged population in the region. Three new initiatives anticipate these likely changes: attracting a more diverse student body, expanding our international programs, and attracting a more diverse faculty.
The strategic plan outlines steps toward a more diverse student body, with an increased presence of American minority students: additional admissions counselors for recruitment, cultivation of new markets, student and faculty exchanges with schools in other nations, and exploration of “feeder high school” relationships. Augustana has reached out to traditionally under-represented populations through: African-American and Hispanic alumni conferences on recruiting and retention; sponsorship of the National Hispanic Institute's summer conferences; and “Leadership in Cultural Diversity” scholarships. Augustana's fall 2005 full-time enrollment was 2,363, putting us ahead of our enrollment plan by one year.
We must attract a more diverse faculty. We have actively recruited minority faculty. The administration has strongly suggested that at least one of the final candidates for every academic position should be a minority. In a new program, Augustana will partner with the University of Chicago to offer minority graduate students a reduced course load for a year as they complete their degrees.
Infrastructure is key to supporting a student body of 2,500. Since 1996, we have invested $74 million in new or renewed facilities. The campus master plan was approved by the college board in 2005. Priority projects include building a residence hall and renovating existing ones, renovating of Carlsson Hall for academic use, renovating Old Main, and constructing a student center. Second tier projects involve improved facilities in music and theatre, additional parking, and acquisition of nearby properties suiting the goals of the master plan.
The strategic plan proposes steps to enhance information technology systems. The college seeks to expand the faculty's ability to try new, innovative methods of teaching and learning through technology. The Academic Computing Committee considers technology to be used for academic purposes. An Administrative Systems Task Force meeting in 2004 led to the decision to purchase Datatel administrative software to be implemented over the next two years. A consulting team revamped the college's website during the 2004-2005 academic year.